I was recently unloading the dishwasher and accidentally bumped the glass lid to our electric skillet. The lid, which had shown no signs of weakness, suddenly shattered, showering everything around it with countless fragments of glass. It reminded me how quickly our trust in someone or something can disintegrate, leaving us in a state of bewildered shock.

And if we’ve historically found refreshment and strength through the Word of God, we may be surprised to find ourselves struggling to embrace the promises He recorded for His followers; promises which once provided us confident hope. Take Romans 8:28, for example:

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

I’ve bitterly questioned God over the absolute truth of Romans 8:28 in the past. How could God permit a terrible struggle or tragedy to come into our lives in the name of doing something “good”?

Having questions of God isn’t wrong. But entering into battle with Him over the truth of His Word is a sure way to forfeit peace and engage in an exhausting, losing campaign. Let’s take a deeper look at Romans 8:28 and see why surrendering to the truth of it—once and for all—is one of the most wonderful things we can do.

* * *

“All things work together for good…”

The first thing we should note is that Romans 8:28 does not state “all things are good”. Rather, it declares “God causes all things to work together for good.”

The difference is significant.

For example, we’d question the culinary prowess of anyone who set a bowl of flour in front of an individual they loved and announce they’d made that person’s favorite cake. Of course, one of the ingredients in the cake might be flour, but flour alone is far from yummy.

To some degree, our devastating experiences are a bit like flour: by themselves, they’re awful. But when carefully mixed with a little sugar, some butter, cocoa, vanilla and whatnot, flour is able to combine with other ingredients, bake awhile, and turn out something extremely delicious.

Perhaps Romans 8:28 should remind us of the workings of a Master Chef. Our pain is never wasted; God graciously and intentionally permits ingredients (occurrences) in our lives in order to bring about unimaginable good—for us and His kingdom.

And God’s use of the word “good” compared to ours is quietly staggering.

* * *

In Genesis chapter 1 we read of God’s creation of the sun, moon, stars, and the earth with its beautiful variety of trees, flowering plants and food. He created the animals and all creatures, placing some on the land, others which soared in the air, and myriads which brought teeming life to the seas. God declared the results “good”.

In the above passage the Hebrew word “good” means pleasant, agreeable; good. In context we see this word testifying to a dynamic fullness; things as they should be and flourishing—in harmony with God’s purposes.

We likely agree God’s works of creation are better experienced than described. Have you felt the spray from a thundering waterfall, watched a horse run free, or thrilled at a brightly colored flower growing through a crack in a sheer wall of granite? Has the way in which a storm moves over the desert or a bird soaring effortlessly hundreds of feet in the air brought you to quiet awe or ecstatic wonder?

The goodness we see in creation is overlaid with truest, pure goodness because it is God’s creative work and He is good.

In our Romans 8:28 passage, God’s use of the word “good” translates from the Greek as being intrinsically good—as good in nature and good whether it is seen to be so or not.

This means when God causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him which are called according to His purpose, He is doing a beautiful, functional, creative work. It is good through and through. It’s flawless. And it’s wholly independent of any inability on our part to recognize it for what it truly is.

* * *

It is this masterful working of good which takes place in every area of life for those described in the latter portion of this verse: “All things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are called according to His purpose.”

So we have a qualifier, here. This thrilling declaration is inapplicable for anyone who does not love God; anyone who is not called according to His purpose.

* * *

We may ask how we can know if we love God or simply think we love God? Jesus tells us plainly:  If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15). Later in the chapter Jesus is equally clear: “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me…” (John 14:21a).

* * *

Do you, friend, fit the first segment of the qualifier listed in Romans 8:28? Do you love God? Your trust and obedience to Him—even during the toughest of battles and disappointments—is a measurement for determining your heart’s true love condition toward Him. It’s suddenly easy to gauge the depth of our devotion.

Please remember the above passages aren’t saying if an individual ever fails to keep God’s commandments and instructions he or she doesn’t love God or isn’t His child. (Whew!) Rather, they’re directing our attention to a pattern in a person’s life; a habit, a lifestyle. Is it your habit or goal to believe and obey God’s Word regardless of the circumstances in which you find yourself?

The ongoing qualifier of the Romans 8:28 assurance is to them that are called according to His [God’s] purpose.

Perhaps you’ve been called to join someone in supper—the food was ready and you were invited or called to come and partake in that meal. In a similar way God calls those who become His children. In the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) “call” refers to an outward hearing.We see John 3:16 calling out to us God’s love and redemptive plan of salvation for anyone who believes in Jesus Christ. (Yet we can’t even answer that call without God’s action; He graciously supplies the believer with the faith to believe! Ephesians 2:8-9)

In the Epistles (comprised of the New Testament’s 21 letters from Romans to Jude), we see there is a calling on one’s life due to a special and sovereign influence from God. Each believer is set apart by God for eternal life in Christ Jesus; a positional oneness with Him (Romans 6:23; I Timothy 6:12). This does not refer to a select group of Christians, but every believer in Christ.

* * *

This means we aren’t adding Christ to our life to “round it out” or make sure we “go to heaven” when we die. Believers, though undeserving, have been ushered into a holy union with God who assures us—and ensures that—everything in our lives is working together to make us more like His Son, Jesus, who cried out before going to the cross on our behalf:

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:41-42)

* * *

Romans 8:29-30 explains God’s purpose; the amazing, end result: “For those whom He [God] foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He [Jesus] would be the firstborn among many brethren [the believers]; and these whom He predestined He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.”

This never means the adopted child of God shouldn’t pray for relief from troubles or heartaches. But if that sought after relief does not occur, we can know (as in, know, know, know!) the shattered fragments in our lives are the very “ingredients” necessary to help conform us into the likeness of Christ (James 1:2-4).

When questioning God over Romans 8:28, I was operating so far out of my calling that I failed to recognize Christlikeness as the greatest longing a heart can have and the greatest gift God can give.

Surrendering to the direct assurance from God that the trials we as believers undergo are part of a flawless, beautiful, functional, and creative work which is good—through and through—transforms every segment of life. And this includes the great mystery of failure-prone mortals becoming more like Jesus Christ.

That’s encouraging.

* * *

When we surrender to God and the truth of His Word, our weapon-like questions are dropped in grateful humility as we run into the embrace of the One whose love for us is fierce, holy, and beautiful. We have the comfort of pouring out our hearts and worship in the strong arms of the Heavenly Father who doesn’t know how to give anything that isn’t intrinsically good to His beloved children.

* * *

Please—today—read the breathtaking truth of Romans 8:28-39. And sweetly surrender your shattered fragments (and battles) to God.

* * *

‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take Him at His word.

Just to rest upon His promise, just to know, “Thus saith the Lord!”

Jesus, Jesus. How I trust Him! How I’ve proved Him o’re and o’re.

Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus! Oh, for grace to trust Him more!

 

[Louisa M. R. Stead, 1882]
June

June

People Lover. Author. Blogger. Speaker. Forgiven Much & Wild About God. Learn about June's latest book on her website.

2 Comments

  • Beryl says:

    Complete surrender to the Master Chef…what a wonderful truth! Thank you June for being God’s vessel!

  • Pepper says:

    Thank you for another well articulated blog, that does indeed offer encouragement, June! With each post my mind and heart open up to your truths. Well God’s truths I suppose…but you make them relatable and understandable to me. I so look forward to your blogs. Until next time, Pepper 🙂

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